The new revolution, the one you wouldn’t notice if still submerged in post-Libertines, Monkeys era, the musicality of Mumfords and Marinas, is starting.  In an age where the conventional is now what punk once was: drug and drink abuse, dramatic, cheap outfits, ripped everything, battered Converse, skinny jeans, Gagaesque costumes, tidy punk is the only real stuff cleaning up.  For rock and roll lost its way, disappearing up its own back passage as it worshipped an era long gone with no punk relevance in a society with no taboos anymore.

If there ever was anything pure about rock and roll, it was punk. Going right back to Chuck Berry, to the female blues singers in Nashville prior to The Blues, it was punk. Punk has always used a genuine emotional knowledge to fuel its musicality. The feeling before the form. Whereas commercial rock uses its musicality to create an emotional picture. And that is why punk is still the most powerful artform because it comes from a true place.  It communicates a new and emerging consciousness more immediately and dynamically than any politician or news agency. And it belongs to the people who understand it rather than an individual. It’s not about ownership; it’s about re-ownership.  And it is a genuine threat to the establishment, whatever that establishment might be, because it is the articulation of the voiceless, the powerless in an immediate roar of passion and precision.

But what was it? And why is it important now in 2010?

Punk rock  as a music genre started between 1974 and 1976 in the UK, USA and Australia.  Punk rock bands rebelled against what they saw as the excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. In contrast, they created fast, sharp-edged sounds, short songs, bare instrumentation and usually political, anti-establishment lyrics. Another ‘punk’ element was its independence with most bands self-producing their recordings, marketing and distributing them through informal channels.

Punk soon became a cultural phenomenon, a scene in itself epitomised by The Ramones in the USA and the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned in the UK. Tommy Ramone said punk came about due to a need for ‘some pure, stripped down, no bullshit rock ‘n’ roll.’  Indeed, popular music had grown so tame it was indistinguishable from anything.  Joe Strummer saw punk as ‘our freedom. We’re meant to be able to do what we want to do.’

Typical punk rock instrumentation means only one or two electric guitars, one electric bass and drum kit and some vocals. The songs are very short, some under two minutes, largely with the conventional rock ‘n’ roll verse-chorus form and 4/4 time signature. Guitar parts would be simple, not complicated, and include very distorted power chords or barre chords. The bass largely provides a thumping, forced rhythm and the drumming is fast and hard. When it comes to recording, punk rockers want the sound to feel ‘real’, to demonstrate the commitment and intensity of the live performance. They have a lo-fi sound, no editing out of chat between bandmates, false starts, coughs, laughs etc.

The credit crunch, downloading culture, global recession and the changing way we consume music has led to a glut of stranded ‘artists’ – most of whom really aren’t artists at all.  Having been cloistered and tamed by the cosy world of the recording industry, they now find themselves dumped, abandoned in a dustbowl desert without the discipline to develop their talent and ideas. Not only that, but they’ve lost touch with the real world. Punk always broke down the barriers between performer and audience.

Punk goes beyond words. I spend eighteen hours of every day immersed in words but punk is pure, raw emotional communication. Eighteen hours, words coming out of my hand or mouth, in through my eyes and ears,. The few precious moments of true abandon I do get are either through proper punk or doing something physical.  Sex and drugs were always linked with rock and roll because, back then, rock and roll did feel like the first time for either. It was heady, intoxicating. Maybe the reason people are now overdoing the sex and drugs is because music doesn’t feel like anything anymore. It feels like wallpaper. It feels like muzak. It makes me want to drink bleach, get high, stab the postman and send hate texts.  Conversely, punk makes me want to hug strangers, write a novel, water the plants, call my brother, take the cat to the vet’s or do trapeze.  Punk lifts us out of delusion into our humanity. Rock and roll has retired, bloated, fat and aged, and left  bland pap to take care of human connection. I blame the increase of knife crime and the country going to the dogs on the ‘tame’ music. It's become a methadone-soaked pacifier.

Punk isn’t a movement or a scene; it’s a method. Punk is instant. Punk is passion. Punk is God-given. Punk is the seizing of a moment in a sound so precisely, so clearly you feel like you’ve been punched, kissed, fucked for the first time. It’s immediate, offensive and unforgettable. It’s also an absolute essential in any real musician.

More elegant than dance, punk articulates feelings and thoughts words never can…which is why, historically, punk has been synonymous with the poor, dispossessed and uneducated.

However, this is ironic because, in actual fact, punk is one of the highest art forms. It’s the celebration of instinct over  categorisation. Punk is bloody hard. When I hear the word ‘experimental’ it’s a euphemism for ‘failed at punk’. They can’t quite get the feeling. And, if you can’t quite get the feeling, you can’t quite reach the people. Punk is all about sound. And to understand sound, you have to be observant and listen., feel and see. Sharper than the everyman yet no more than the everyman.  Punk is not about being Gandhi or Obama.  Or even Lennon. You’re not trying to be anyone. You’re trying for the sound.

Punk only becomes a scene when the sound, look and a word symbolise a moment in time. But then it is limited. Because, just as there’s only one ‘first time’ for that kiss, punch, loss of virginity, there’s only one first time for real punk. But that’s no bad thing and it is still very rare and precious.

Watching John Lyddon still using the old form forty years on is tragic.  Ageing ungracefully, fat, wearing a white tunic and shouting ‘Hello Allah!’ is not cool or punk. The Damned created the bombastic but theatric  (and commercially very successful) ‘Eloise’ just a few years after their punk days. It doesn’t matter. Punk was when they proved they ‘got’ it. They had fun playing around with sounds til they found the sound which communicated a whole world. And from there they learnt to walk. And from walking to running. And some to flying.

But the music industry is stuffed with musicians with no punk history claiming it. They never went beyond what they knew, never listened to the sounds of a real world and reached out to it. It’s all about ‘me’ still and music (well, punk at least) is about you and me and us.

So why is punk a good thing? Surely it leads to violence and mayhem?  It’s the joy of that recognition of a sound and feeling you daren’t even own beforehand. Now, not only is it yours but you know someone else felt it too – you are not alone.

So, with those definitions, I would say Tupac’s ‘Strictly 4 My N.G.G.A.Z’ was punk, Twisted Wheel’s ‘Oh What Have You Done?’, The Ramones’ ‘Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio’ and ‘I wanna be sedated’, The Clash’s ‘Should I stay or Should I go’,  Joy Division's 'She's Lost Control', ‘Hello’ by Oasis, ‘I Don’t Mind’ by the Buzzcocks, ‘Today is The Day’ by Screaming Tea Party, 'Wasteland' by The View.  All fierce, rabid nuggets of a spectrum of emerging emotions presented in crystalline, crack-immediate precision so that someone outwith that experience knows it. Straightaway. They’re in that world.

There have been thousands of bands labelled as punk but their songs have not been. Punk needs to be recognised as a process rather than a conventional, stylised form or a product. Nothing can contain punk and the bands that consistently work at the real craft (and they are few and far between) should be recognised.  These are the understated, lo-fi, brutal sound engineers of feelings not yet claimed, using nothing but their voices and scrapings of guitar and drums. They bring us worlds more vivid than the ‘Now’ programme or our everyday senses. Long may they assault us and wake us out of our apathy and self-indulgence.

You can stick your scene mimics, concept artists and commercial successes on the shelf along with ‘nice things to listen to when I don’t want to feel’. But for those of us who are alive, punk is pure genius, the only real art form the twentieth century gave us to articulate our dehumanisation and what it is to be real.

Punk is balls and belief – not a safety pin through your nose, being high on drugs, wearing torn clothes or being a walking encyclopaedia on The Clash and the Sex Pistols.  Belief and balls in instinct, however, not in a creed or doctrine, instinct over experience and technique. It’s a life force. No credit crunch, no recession, no downloading culture will ever stop punk. But what they will do is sift out those who aren’t worthy.

Bring back the sound!